The Crime of Robbery in Massachusetts

Robbery is the crime of stealing or taking money or property from another person or from another person’s control. It is different from larceny in that robbery involves some type of force, either actual or threatened, used against another person. It is governed by and defined in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 19.

A prosecutor must prove each of the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a defendant of robbery:

  1. The defendant used force or violence on the victim or caused a state of fear in the victim by a threat. The amount of force or violence used is irrelevant, as long as it allowed the defendant to take the money or property against the will of the victim. The force used to simply snatch a purse from someone’s hand is enough to satisfy this element. A threat can be communicated by either words or actions. Proving that the victim was put in fear from a threat requires that the victim was aware of the threat and that the defendant intended to make it.

  2. The defendant took money or property from the victim intending to steal it. This means that the defendant removed the money or property from the victim’s control and placed it in his own control. “Intent to steal” means that the defendant wanted to take the property or money from the victim permanently. If the defendant does not form the intent to steal until after he has already assaulted the victim, this element is not satisfied.

  3. The defendant took the property or money from the victim’s presence or immediate control. Whether or not the property or money belonged to the victim is immaterial, as long as it was in his control. Even if the victim transferred the property to the defendant, this element is still satisfied provided that the defendant instructed the victim to do so.

This form of robbery is a lesser included offense of armed robbery. It is punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years. This crime is a felony, as any potential for incarceration is in a state prison as opposed to a jail or a house of correction. The District Court does not have final jurisdiction over this crime. A second conviction of robbery carries a mandatory minimum two-year sentence if the victims in both instances were over 60 years old.

What Are My Chances of Winning a Robbery Case at Trial?

Like any case, it is impossible to predict what a jury will do. However, proper preparation and skill can certainly increase the chances of a successful trial. Investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident should begin as soon as possible. Any potential witness should be spoken to as early on in the investigation as practical so that his or her memory is clear.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer always examines any motive that a witness may have to testify against a defendant. Furthermore, a witness’s opportunity to make an identification of the defendant as the perpetrator must also be carefully considered. A good cross-examination will include questions relative to the lack of opportunity a witness had to view the perpetrator, the stressfulness of the situation in which any identification was made which would affect the reliability of the identification, the lack of good lighting in the area in which the witness observed the perpetrator and any bias or motive that a witness may have to testify for the District Attorney.

Preparedness and experience are critical to a successful trial.

Attorney Kathleen M. McCarthy has successfully defended countless robbery charges in her many years of experience as a criminal defense attorney. If you have been charged with this or another crime, you will need an experienced lawyer like Kathleen McCarthy to fight for you. Call her law offices at (978)-975-8060 or contact her online today.